May 29, 2007

Book Review: "Embroideries (Fashion & Style)" by Althea MacKenzie

Embroideries (Fashion & Style) by Althea MacKenzie. This is a relatively new publication, part of series of four about the Wade Costume collection (the others in the series are: Shoes and Slippers, Hats and Bonnets and Buttons and Trimmings). While the subtitle readings, "one of the world's leading collections of costumes and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries", the collection and the books have several items from earlier periods, including the 16th century.

Of particular interest are:
  • a 16th century embroidery fragment in the classic scrolling flowers motifs, this one made especially interesting by the placement of some of the flowers within ogee shapes. As well as a colour photo of the whole item, there is a full page close up of one of the flower motifs, giving excellent detail of the stitching (p. 10/11)

  • a 16th century metal thread purse. While not in the best of condition it gives a great design for a purse and how metal thread embroidery can be employed on a small project. (p. 36/37)

  • a later 16th/early 17th century gaming purse, this one a combination of metal thread and polychrome silk work.

  • a 18th century Thimble or Guinea purse. While this falls outside the area of interest of this blog, it is noteworthy due to the full page close up of the two tassles ends, which appear to be of the same construction as tassel ends seen on many sweet bags (p. 40/41)
There are some areas where the book could be improved, for example there is an annoying lack of technical detail on some of the items, such as size and materials, but this is more than made up for by the excellent close up colour images in the book. Please note, however, that this is an undersize book, only 7" x 7" (18cm x 18cm).

Each item is given approx. two pages. There is a brief summary about the item giving basic info on materials and some background on the type/purpose of the item. Most spreads have an image of the complete item and some sort of close up, either full page or quarters of a page.

On the whole, a great little book, one can only hope that the series is expanded to include some of the other collections held by the National Trust.
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: National Trust (January 1, 2005)
  • ISBN: 0707803861

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